The City of Clinton has been hosting an annual Halloween parade since the 1950s. Jean Buikema, one of the parade organizers, says it’s held at night, which makes it unique.

“It’s not a Saturday or Sunday afternoon parade,” she says. “It’s dark by the time we get started and that helps the atmosphere of all the floats where they put lights and use generators and that type of thing.”

Mary Jo Dopson, another member of the parade committee, says the 31st of October was often called “Mischief Night” when the first Halloween parade was held in Clinton, “to funnel their energies into something different…This is, we believe, either 73 or 74 years ago.”

It’s known as the Clinton Mardi Gras Halloween Parade. Buikema says this year’s theme is Roll the Dice…It’s Family Game Night.

“Board games are fun, so my favorite was Trouble. ‘Pop-o-matic! Pop the dice. Pop the six and you go twice. Race each other around the track and try to send each other back,” Buikema says, her recitation of the 1970s ad for the game. “Those are the things we did as a family and we know if we come up with a theme, Clinton comes up with great floats.”

The parade begins as it passes by the Clinton County Courthouse and Dopson says that block will be a quiet area.

“If you do have autistic children and would like to stand in a quiet zone, there will be no sirens and the lights will not be started yet,” she says. “…The rest of the parade is pretty crowded and quite noisy and we get all that, so this is what we thought would be our best bet to try to keep a quiet zone.”

The parade committee will meet this weekend to set the line-up of floats and other entries. The parade gets starts at 6:30 p.m. on Halloween.

(By Gary Determan, KROS, Clinton)